AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

31 October 2019

Sleep.


Goodnight; ensured release,
Imperishable peace,
Have these for yours,
While sea abides, and land,
And earth’s foundations stand,
and heaven endures.

When earth’s foundations flee,
nor sky nor land nor sea
At all is found
Content you, let them burn:
It is not your concern;
Sleep on, sleep sound.

A.E. Housman

Thanks, October. Until next year ...

Poe.

An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe, starring Vincent Price ...



Presages.


Enthralled by some mysterious spell, I stood
In the lit gloom of an enchanted wood.
The cypress there and myrtle twined their boughs,
Significant, in baleful brotherhood.

The brooding willow whispered to the yew;
Beneath, the deadly nightshade and the rue,
With immortelles self-woven into strange
Funereal shapes, and horrid nettles grew.

No song of bird nor any drone of bees,
Nor light leaf lifted by the wholesome breeze:
The air was stagnant all, and Silence was
A living thing that breathed among the trees.

Conspiring spirits whispered in the gloom,
Half-heard, the stilly secrets of the tomb.
With blood the trees were all adrip; the leaves
Shone in the witch-light with a ruddy bloom.

I cried aloud! -- the spell, unbroken still,
Rested upon my spirit and my will.
Unsouled, unhearted, hopeless and forlorn,
I strove with monstrous presages of ill!

At last the viewless -- 

Ambrose Bierce

Advice.

Jethro Tull, "Witches Promise"

Oblivion.


The HEADLESS HORSEMAN RIDES TONIGHT

The Headless Horseman rides tonight
Through stark and starless skies,
Shattering the silence with
His otherworldly cries.
He races through the darkness
On his alabaster steed,
The Headless Horseman rides tonight,
Wherever the fates would lead.

And he rides upon the wind tonight,
He rides upon the wind,
Galloping, galloping, galloping on
Out of the great oblivion,
Galloping till the night is gone.
He rides upon the wind, tonight,
He rides upon the wind.

The Headless Horseman rides tonight
Beggared in robes of black,
To bear a being from the earth,
Never to bring him back.
He’s evil, foul, and bottoming,
With laughter on his breath.
The Headless Horseman rides tonight,
The minister of death.

And he rides upon the wind tonight,
He rides upon the wind,
Galloping, galloping, galloping on
Out of the great oblivion,
Galloping till the night is gone.
He rides upon the wind, tonight,
He rides upon the wind.

The Headless Horseman rides tonight,
He rides the wind alone.
Beneath his arm he tightly tucks
His head of gleaming bone.
His voice is harsh and hollow,
It is horrible to hear.
The Headless Horseman rides tonight
To fill the earth with fear!

And he rides upon the wind tonight,
He rides upon the wind,
Galloping, galloping, galloping on
Out of the great oblivion,
Galloping till the night is gone.
He rides upon the wind, tonight,
He rides upon the wind.

The Headless Horseman rides tonight
Upon his fateful trip,
With silvery stiles of steely death
Held fast in boney grip.
He sweeps it swiftly forth and back
As over the earth he glides,
And none in the world is safe tonight,
For the Headless Horseman rides.

And he rides upon the wind tonight,
He rides upon the wind,
Galloping, galloping, galloping on
Out of the great oblivion,
Galloping till the night is gone.
He rides upon the wind, tonight,
He rides upon the wind.

Jack Prelutsky

Hallows'.

Happy All Hallows' Eve ...


The Rock & Roll Rooster doesn't need a  mask.

Spread.


It was a small town by a small river and a small lake in a small northern part of a Midwest state. There wasn’t so much wilderness around you couldn’t see the town. But on the other hand there wasn’t so much town you couldn’t see and feel and touch and smell the wilderness. The town was full of trees. And dry grass and dead flowers now that autumn was here. And full of fences to
walk on and sidewalks to skate on and a large ravine to tumble in and yell across. And the town was full of…

Boys.

And it was the afternoon of Halloween.

And all the houses shut against a cool wind.

And the town full of cold sunlight.

But suddenly, the day was gone.

Night came out from under each tree and spread.

Behind the doors of all the houses there was a scurry of mouse feet, muted cries, flickerings of light.

Behind one door, Tom Skelton, aged thirteen, stopped and listened.

The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats.

Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows’ Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet.

Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.

The cries behind the locked house doors grew more exasperated as shadows of boys flew by windows. Half-dressed boys, greasepaint on their cheeks; here a hunchback, there a medium-sized giant. Attics were still being rummaged, old locks broken, old steamer chests disemboweled for costumes.

Tom Skelton put on his bones.

He grinned at the spinal cord, the ribcage, the kneecaps stitched white on black cotton.

Lucky! he thought. What a name you got! Tom Skelton. Great for Halloween!

Everyone calls you Skeleton! So what do you wear?

Bones.

Wham. Eight front doors banged shut.

Eight boys made a series of beautiful leaps over flowerpots, rails, dead ferns, bushes, landing on their own dry-starched front lawns. Galloping, rushing, they seized a final sheet, adjusted a last mask, tugged at strange mushroom caps or wigs, shouting at the way the wind took them along, helped their
running; glad of the wind, or cursing boy curses as masks fell off or hung sidewise or stuffed up their noses with a muslin smell like a dogs hot breath.

Or just letting the sheer exhilaration of being alive and out on this night pull their lungs and shape their throats into a yell and a yell and a … yeeeellll!

Eight boys collided at one intersection.

“Here I am: Witch!”

“Apeman!”

“Skeleton!” said Tom, hilarious inside his bones.

“Gargoyle!”

“Beggar!”

“Mr. Death Himself!”

Bang! They shook back from their conclusions, all happy-fouled and tangled under a street-corner light. The swaying electric lamp belled in the wind like a cathedral bell. The bricks of the street became planks of a drunken ship all tilted and foundered with dark and light.

Behind each mask was a boy.

“Who’s that?” Tom Skelton pointed.

“Won’t tell. Secret!” cried the Witch, disguising his voice.

Everyone laughed.

“Who’s that?”

“Mummy!” cried the boy inside the ancient yellowed wrappings, like an immense cigar stalking the night streets.

“And who’s—?”

“No time!” said Someone Hidden Behind Yet Another Mystery of Muslin and

Paint. “Trick or treat!”

“Yeah!”

Shrieking, wailing, full of banshee mirth they ran, on everything except sidewalks, going up into the air over bushes and down almost upon yipping dogs.

But in the middle of running, laughing, barking, suddenly, as if a great hand of night and wind and smelling-something-wrong stopped them, they stopped ...

Ray Bradbury, from The Halloween Tree

Mock.


Dressing up as monsters to mock the impotence of evil ...

CONNECT

Thanks, Kurt.

ACϟDC, "Hell's Bells"

Pleasures.

Run.


OCTOBER 1954

Now the time of year has come for the leaves to be burning.
October, and the month fills me with grief
For the girl who used to run with the black dogs through them,
Singing, before they burned. Light as a leaf
Her heart, and her mouth red as the sumac turning.

Oh, girl, come back to tell them with your bell-like singing
That you are this figure who stands alone, watching the dead leaves burn.
(The wind is high in the trees, and the clang of bluejay voices ringing
Turns the air to metal. This is not a month for anyone who grieves.)
For they would say that a witch had passed in fury if I should turn,
Gray-haired and brooding, and run now as I once ran through the leaves.

Kate Boyle

Playing.

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

30 October 2019

Genius.


Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius.

William Blake

Bruce Cockburn, "Angels in the Half Light"

Undissected.


It is precisely the colouring, the atmosphere, the unclassifiable individual details of a story, and above all the general purport that informs with life the undissected bones of the plot, that really count.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Kapsberger, "Preludio e Sfessania"

I Bossifondi (Simone Vallerotonda, theorbo, and Gabriele Miracle, percussion) performing ...

See.

Blake, Self-portrait, 1802


AUGURIES of INNOCENCE

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour
A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage 
A Dove house filld with Doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thr' all its regions 
A dog starvd at his Masters Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State 
A Horse misusd upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood 
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fibre from the Brain does tear 
A Skylark wounded in the wing 
A Cherubim does cease to sing 
The Game Cock clipd & armd for fight
Does the Rising Sun affright 
Every Wolfs & Lions howl
Raises from Hell a Human Soul 
The wild deer, wandring here & there 
Keeps the Human Soul from Care 
The Lamb misusd breeds Public Strife
And yet forgives the Butchers knife 
The Bat that flits at close of Eve
Has left the Brain that wont Believe
The Owl that calls upon the Night
Speaks the Unbelievers fright
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be belovd by Men 
He who the Ox to wrath has movd
Shall never be by Woman lovd
The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
Shall feel the Spiders enmity 
He who torments the Chafers Sprite
Weaves a Bower in endless Night 
The Catterpiller on the Leaf
Repeats to thee thy Mothers grief 
Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly 
For the Last Judgment draweth nigh 
He who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar 
The Beggars Dog & Widows Cat 
Feed them & thou wilt grow fat 
The Gnat that sings his Summers Song
Poison gets from Slanders tongue 
The poison of the Snake & Newt
Is the sweat of Envys Foot 
The poison of the Honey Bee
Is the Artists Jealousy
The Princes Robes & Beggars Rags
Are Toadstools on the Misers Bags 
A Truth thats told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent 
It is right it should be so 
Man was made for Joy & Woe 
And when this we rightly know 
Thro the World we safely go 
Joy & Woe are woven fine 
A Clothing for the soul divine 
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine 
The Babe is more than swadling Bands
Throughout all these Human Lands
Tools were made & Born were hands 
Every Farmer Understands
Every Tear from Every Eye
Becomes a Babe in Eternity 
This is caught by Females bright
And returnd to its own delight 
The Bleat the Bark Bellow & Roar 
Are Waves that Beat on Heavens Shore 
The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath
Writes Revenge in realms of Death 
The Beggars Rags fluttering in Air
Does to Rags the Heavens tear 
The Soldier armd with Sword & Gun 
Palsied strikes the Summers Sun
The poor Mans Farthing is worth more
Than all the Gold on Africs Shore
One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands
Shall buy & sell the Misers Lands 
Or if protected from on high 
Does that whole Nation sell & buy 
He who mocks the Infants Faith
Shall be mockd in Age & Death 
He who shall teach the Child to Doubt
The rotting Grave shall neer get out 
He who respects the Infants faith
Triumphs over Hell & Death 
The Childs Toys & the Old Mans Reasons
Are the Fruits of the Two seasons 
The Questioner who sits so sly 
Shall never know how to Reply 
He who replies to words of Doubt
Doth put the Light of Knowledge out 
The Strongest Poison ever known
Came from Caesars Laurel Crown 
Nought can Deform the Human Race
Like to the Armours iron brace 
When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow
To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow 
A Riddle or the Crickets Cry
Is to Doubt a fit Reply 
The Emmets Inch & Eagles Mile
Make Lame Philosophy to smile 
He who Doubts from what he sees
Will neer Believe do what you Please 
If the Sun & Moon should Doubt 
Theyd immediately Go out 
To be in a Passion you Good may Do 
But no Good if a Passion is in you 
The Whore & Gambler by the State
Licencd build that Nations Fate 
The Harlots cry from Street to Street 
Shall weave Old Englands winding Sheet 
The Winners Shout the Losers Curse 
Dance before dead Englands Hearse 
Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born 
Every Morn and every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight 
Some are Born to sweet delight 
Some are Born to Endless Night 
We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night 
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light 
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night 
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day

William Blake

Poetic.


I sense the world might be more dreamlike, metaphorical, and poetic than we currently believe--but just as irrational as magic when looked at in a scientific way. I wouldn't be surprised if poetry--poetry in the broadest sense, in the sense of a world filled with metaphor, rhyme, and recurring patterns, shapes, and designs--is how the world works. The world isn't logical, it's a song.

David Byrne

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

Engage.


Engage your mind before you engage your weapon.

General James Mattis

Stubbornness.

Morse, John Adams, 1816


Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right.

John Adams

Happy Birthday, Firchau


My sister's birthday is today!  Happy birthday, Buff!

Unconsciously we all have a standard by which we measure other men, and if we examine closely we find that this standard is a very simple one, and is this: we admire them, we envy them, for great qualities we ourselves lack. Hero worship consists in just that. Our heroes are men who do things which we recognize, with regret, and sometimes with a secret shame, that we cannot do. We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be like somebody else. If everybody was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes.

Mark Twain

Happy Birthday, Adams

Stuart, John Adams, 1815


John Adams was born on this date in 1735.

Human nature with all its infirmities and deprivation is still capable of great things. It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to a excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. Their bodies must be hardened, as well as their souls exalted. Without strength and activity and vigor of body, the brightest mental excellencies will be eclipsed and obscured.

John Adams

29 October 2019

Choirs.

Grimshaw, Late October, 1882


SONNET 73

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

William Shakespeare

27 October 2019

Smoky.


It stood in the middle of a vast yard behind the terribly strange house. And this tree rose up some one hundred feet in the air, taller than the high roofs and full and round and well branched, and covered all over with rich assortments of red and brown and yellow autumn leaves.

"But," whispered Tom, "oh, look. What's up in that tree!"

For the Tree was hung with a variety of pumpkins of every shape and size and a number of tints and hues of smoky yellow or bright orange.

"A pumpkin tree," someone said.

"No," said Tom.

The wind blew among the high branches and tossed their bright burdens, softly.

"A Halloween Tree," said Tom. 

And he was right.

There must have been a thousand pumpkins on this tree, hung high and on every branch. A thousand smiles. A thousand grimaces. And twice-times-a-thousand glares and winks and blinks and leerings of fresh-cut eyes.

And as the boys watched, a new thing happened.

The pumpkins began to come alive.

One by one, starting at the bottom of the Tree and the nearest pumpkins, candles took fire within the raw interiors. This one and then that and this and then still another, and on up and around, three pumpkins here, seven pumpkins still higher, a dozen clustered beyond, a hundred, five hundred, a thousand pumpkins lit their candles, which is to say brightened up their faces, showed fire in their square or round or curiously slanted eyes. Flame guttered in their toothed mouths. Sparks leaped out their ripe-cut ears.

Halloween.

Ray Bradbury, from The Halloween Tree

Robert Earl Keen, "The Road Goes On Forever"

This.


An OCTOBER ASTONISHMENT

When I touched the yellow maple leaves
They entered me
Without my knowing

This morning after I’d picked them
I had their gold sweetness
In my veins

It was after holding them in my hands
Upon my skin
In the slant light dewy morning
Plunging my nose deep in amongst them
Wet and cold, snuffling
The autumn scent
Suffused into air and me

My eyes fixed on their open hands
Veined like mine
My fingers traced their fingers

Crimson stems in my palms
Conduits through which shape
And substance entered —
Mapleness
Only vaguely I sensed
Some ephemeral
Sap entering me

This morning, after
In my own bed I woke
Bathed full and swimming in yellow light
That hovers in and around
Smooth maple branches in late October
On crisp mornings

I’d fondled the seeds, too,
Fuzzy winged pods
Full of imperceptible roots
Bark and limbs
A million invisible leaves
I’d given handfuls to the waiting children
They went twirling
Whirling through the sky
Eager, alive with mapleness
Maybe for this

I woke that morning
Wholly content, pierced through
Astounded in my bed, wrapped
In the warm light
Of maples

Garth Gilchrist

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

Weiss, "Courante in F-major"

Lutz Kirchof performs ...

Pleasure.

Schrödter, Don Quixote, Reading in the Armchair, 1834


I believe that the phrase "obligatory reading" is a contradiction in terms; reading should not be obligatory. Should we ever speak of "obligatory pleasure?"  Pleasure is not obligatory, pleasure is something we seek. "Obligatory happiness!"

If a book bores you, leave it; don’t read it because it is famous, don’t read it because it is modern, don’t read a book because it is old. If a book is tedious to you, leave it, even if that book is Paradise Lost — which is not tedious to me — or Don Quixote — which also is not tedious to me. But if a book is tedious to you, don't read it; that book was not written for you. Reading should be a form of happiness, so I would advise all possible readers of my last will and testament—which I do not plan to write— I would advise them to read a lot, and not to get intimidated by writers' reputations, to continue to look for personal happiness, personal enjoyment. It is the only way to read.

Jorge Luis Borges

Technique.


Technique is the proof of your seriousness.

Wallace Stevens

Mercies.


O take me from the busy crowd,
I cannot bear the noise!
For Nature's voice is never loud;
I seek for quiet joys.

The book I love is everywhere,
And not in idle words;
The book I love is known to all,
And better lore affords.

The book I love is everywhere,
And every place the same;
GOD bade me make my dwelling there,
And look for better fame.

I never feared the critic's pen,
To live by my renown;
I found the poems in the fields,
And only wrote them down.

And quiet Epping pleases well,
Where Nature's love delays;
I joy to see the quiet place,
And wait for better days.

I love to seek the brakes and fern,
And rabbits up and down;
And then the pleasant Autumn comes,
And turns them all to brown.

To common eyes they only seem
A desert waste and drear;
To taste and love they always shine,
A garden through the year.

LORD keep my love for quiet joys,
Oh, keep me to thy will!
I know THY works, and always find
THY mercies kinder still!

John Clare

Excellent.

An excellent album ...


It's sandwich time.

Happy Birthday, Roosevelt


Theodore Roosevelt was born on this date in 1858.

The joy of living is his who has the heart to demand it.

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt and the Western Experience ...

Excellent.

An excellent stout ...

26 October 2019

Thrill.


Just go on reading, as well as you can, and be sure that when the children get the thrill of the story, for which you wait, they will be asking more questions, and pertinent ones, than you are able to answer.

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

Wind.

Homer, West Wind, 1891

Perfect.


TIMES for DRINKING TEA

In idle moments
When bored with poetry
Thought confused
Beating time to songs
When the music stops
Living in seclusion
Enjoying scholarly pastimes
Conversing late at night
Studying on a sunny day
In the bridal chamber
Detaining favored quests
Playing host to scholars or pretty girls
Visiting friends returned from far away
In perfect weather
When skies are overcast
Watching boats glide past on the canal
Midst trees and bamboos
When flowers bud and birds chatter
On hot days by a lotus pond
Burning incense in the courtyard
After tipsy guests have left
When the youngsters have gone out
On visits to secluded temples
When viewing springs and scenic rocks

Hsü Jan-Ming

Biases.

Wyeth, St. Georges Pine, 1967


In the course of the years, [one] imputes to each species, from his responses to their beauty or utility, and their responses to his labors for or against them, a series of attributes that constitute a character. I am amazed to learn what diverse characters different men impute to one and the same tree.  Our plant biases are indeed a sensitive index to our affections, our tastes, our loyalties, our generosities, and our manner of wasting weekends.

Aldo Leopold, from A Sand County Almanac

Singular.


What you do
Still betters what is done. When you speak, sweet,
I’d have you do it ever. When you sing,
I’d have you buy and sell so, so give alms,
Pray so, and for the ord’ring your affairs,
To sing them too. When you dance, I wish you
A wave o’ th’ sea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that, move still, still so,
And own no other function. Each your doing,
So singular in each particular,
Crowns what you are doing in the present deeds,
That all your acts are queens.

William Shakespeare, from The Winter’s Tale

Happy Birthday, Scarlatti

Velasco, Domenico Scarlatti, 1738


Domenico Scarlatti was born on this date in 1685.

Show yourself more human than critical and your pleasure will increase.

Domenico Scarlatti

Ensemble Pizzacar Galante performs the Sonata in A minor, K. 61 ...

Longing.


BLACK OAKS

Okay, not one can write a symphony, or a dictionary,

or even a letter to an old friend, full of remembrance
and comfort.

Not one can manage a single sound though the blue jays
carp and whistle all day in the branches, without
the push of the wind.

But to tell the truth after a while I’m pale with longing
for their thick bodies ruckled with lichen

and you can’t keep me from the woods, from the tonnage

of their shoulders, and their shining green hair.

Today is a day like any other: twenty-four hours, a
little sunshine, a little rain.

Listen, says ambition, nervously shifting her weight from
one boot to another — why don’t you get going?

For there I am, in the mossy shadows, under the trees.

And to tell the truth I don’t want to let go of the wrists
of idleness, I don’t want to sell my life for money,

I don’t even want to come in out of the rain.

Mary Oliver

23 October 2019

George Winston, "Moon"

Attentiveness.


Ten times a day something happens to me like this - some strengthening throb of amazement - some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.

Mary Oliver

Happy Birthday, Yoakam.


D-wight Lightnin' was born on this date in 1956.

"Close Up the Honky Tonks" ...



It's sandwich time.

Thoroughness.


If you crave for Knowledge, the banquet of Knowledge grows and groans on the board until the finer appetite sickens. If, still putting all your trust in Knowledge, you try to dodge the difficulty by specialising, you produce a brain bulging out inordinately on one side, on the other cut flat down and mostly paralytic at that: and in short so long as I hold that the Creator has an idea of a man, so long shall I be sure that no uneven specialist realises it. The real tragedy of the Library at Alexandria was not that the incendiaries burned immensely, but that they had neither the leisure nor the taste to discriminate.... but we may agree that, in reading, it is not quantity so much that tells, as quality and thoroughness of digestion.

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

George Winston, "Colors"

Considerable.

Reynolds, Self-portrait, 1749


Our studies will be forever, in a very great degree, under the direction of chance; like travelers, we must take what we can get, and when we can get it – whether it is or is not administered to us in the most commodious manner, in the most proper place, or at the exact minute when we would wish to have it.

By leaving a student to himself he may be led to undertake matters above his strength, but the trial will at least have this advantage: it will discover to himself his own deficiencies and this discovery alone is a very considerable acquisition.

Sir Joshua Reynolds

Different.


You know how you walk along a country road and you notice a little tuft of grass, and the next time you pass that way you stop to see how it is getting along and how much it has grown?

I'm going to live a different life from the rest of you.

Georgia O'Keeffe